Friday, December 28, 2007

NFP good for women, couples, and environment.

There is a relatively decent article on NFP over at Lower Hudson Online.For its personal story, it revolves around a couple that uses the Creighton Model to track their fertility.

Here is an excerpt of the better parts of the article:

Some couples, such as the Antenuccis, had trouble getting pregnant. They wanted to learn the physical signs of a woman's fertile times of the month so they could target their efforts. Others, including David and Colleen Toder of New Paltz, sought an eco-friendly way to avoid pregnancy without the side effects associated with birth-control pills.

Both couples agree with the Pappalardos of Stony Point, who teach Natural Family Planning in Rockland County, that the methods promote healthier marriages because of the physical and emotional intimacy required to master the techniques.

"Theresa is our gift from NFP," Tracey Pappalardo, 43, said as her husband, Andrew, cuddled the sleepy toddler, their youngest of four children. "We decided to have her because NFP made us closer to each other, and more open to new life."

The Archdiocese of New York endorses the Creighton or the Sympto-Thermal methods, which use cervical mucus and temperature readings to determine when a woman is most likely to conceive so she can avoid or have sex on those seven to 10 days each month, depending on the desired outcome.

In contrast to the infamous calendar-based "rhythm method," which wrongly assumed all women had the same cycle, these recommended techniques boast contraceptive rates between the 99.6 percent reported in the American Journal of Reproductive Medicine and the 75 percent estimated by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

And, remember, NFP isn't just for Catholics, either:

David Toder, who grew up in a Reform Jewish family in Scarsdale, also argues that the Catholic connotations are secondary to the benefits of practicing environmentally friendly parenting that strengthens a couple's emotional bond.

"Contraception puts a barrier between the couple," he said. "With NFP, you have to work together and trust each other. And, there's a cyclical relationship - a dating and a honeymoon - and that adds to the spice of life and the appreciation you have, and your relationship is well-rounded."

That's good stuff. But we can't have a complete article without the usual dose of doom, gloom, condescension, and skeptical lecturing from the Left:

The American Fertility Association doesn't oppose Natural Family Planning, but Pamela Madsen, executive director, expressed concern that women most drawn to these methods might also be the least likely to use them effectively to avoid pregnancy.

"Many women who are engaged with Natural Family Planning tend to be more conservative and may not be as comfortable in getting to know their bodies in the way that is recommended," she said, adding that she also fears that women trying to get pregnant could waste time on these techniques when they really need medical help.

Since when does conservatism entail being afraid of one's body? Madsen is not basing her opinion on facts. She is working from the popular stereotype of conservative women as being squeamish about anything having to do with their bodies, especially their reproductive health. This is a fallacy.

If anything, it is the use of artificial birth control that suggests fear of one's body, because it allows one to suppress or block natural functions that one does not understand or wish to face. Women who are afraid of their bodies (and men who are afraid of women's bodies and can't even handle the idea of mucous) do not use NFP. Instead, they usually give up before they've even tried it , and go back to artificial methods. If Ms. Madsen spent even five minutes talking to couples at an NFP class, (and five more talking to other couples about why NFP scares them) she would see that her own fears are largely unfounded.

Her other concern, that women would use NFP as a substitute for necessary medical advice is also highly pessimistic, and gives little credit to women or NFP itself. Daily tracking of one's fertility signs allows a person to be more in touch with her body than ever. Speaking from my reading and from personal experience, I can say that it can actually improve doctor-patient communication by allowing women to know when they really do need to go to the doctor. If one is using NFP to get pregnant, for example, and it is still not working, one knows that it is time to see a fertility specialist to discuss any medical problems that could interfere with conception. Not only that, but NFP allows women to be more in touch with their cycles. This allows them to spot some abnormalities that they may not have noticed otherwise, and discuss these with their doctors. In short, NFP makes women more aware, not less, of when they "really need medical help"--and can help doctors to make that medical help more effective.

Madsen's head is so buried in her prejudices (or whatever else) that she is unwilling to give modern conservative women credit for their brains, or science credit for its discoveries.

But at least her comments, despite being strategically placed for maximum dramatic effect, sound properly negative next to comments like this from couples who are throughly familiar with the pros and cons of NFP (I don't hear any fear of the body, do you?):

"With your body, with NFP, you're a gift to your spouse," he said. "It's so important for a husband and wife to be gifts to each other. And children become the fruit of that covenant."


Hat Tip: Dawn Eden.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

More Chesterton on Christmas

"There is no more dangerous or disgusting habit than that of celebrating Christmas before it comes, as I am doing in this article. It is the very essence of a festival that it breaks upon one brilliantly and abruptly, that at one moment the great day is not and the next moment the great day is. ..."

Read the rest here:

Via Tito.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

In the round of our rational and mournful year one festival remains out of all those ancient gaieties that once covered the whole earth. Christmas remains to remind us of those ages, whether Pagan or Christian, when the many acted poetry instead of the few writing it. In all the winter in our woods there is no tree in glow but the holly.

--G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Three little words: Natural Family Planning

Someone dropped by searching for "How to get pregnant". Assuming this person is interested in fertility information, and already knows how the basic process works, I recommend that he/she have a look at the Natural Family Planning links in my sidebar. (Scrolling may be necessary.) I duplicate the list here for your convenience:

Basicallly, what NFP allows people to do is track the woman's cycle, looking for signs of fertility, and then act accordingly. These signs usually include basal body temperature and/or cervical mucous. It requires that both spouses be aware and respectful of the woman's fertility.

Any one of the available methods for tracking female fertility can allow couples to maximize (or minimize if they wish to space their children) the potential of their efforts to conceive.

While NFP is often touted as a Catholic thing, there are many non-Catholics who choose to use it. In addition to the many religious and moral reasons for using NFP, there are other practical concerns. Some use it because they find it is beneficial for their marriages. Others choose it because of medical concerns or even for the sake of the environment (you'd be surprised at where those hormones go). Couples who are interested in natural and organic living may find NFP particularly appealing, because it does not involve the ingestion of any synthetic hormones, or the use of man-made barrier methods.

On a side note, I personally find it to be a handy tool for me as I monitor my reproductive and general health. It has been interesting to see the not-immediately-obvious effects that stress, illness, weight, and diet can have on my body. (Stress, for instance, sends my basal body temp on a wild roller-coaster ride.) Closely observing and charting my cycle has allowed me to spot early signs that something may be negatively affecting my health, and this has allowed me to take care of problems before they get out of hand.

Potential droolfest for fans of Peter Jackson

Today's "Spit Happens" moment is brought to us by Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema, via Jeff Miller:

Jackson and New Line have apparently just reached an agreement for Jackson to make "The Hobbit".

See, I warned you. I'll wait while you run for a bib.


Having enjoyed "The Lord of the Rings" very much, I would have to say that I am looking forward to seeing the results. I do have to admit, however, that my enjoyment was somewhat marred by the more drastic liberties good ol' "P.J." took with plot and character in "The Two Towers" and "Return of the King". I thought the story lost a little of its original depth. Still, the films were revolutionary in their special effects, unless I'm mistaken, and I absolutely loved the visual depiction of Middle Earth. While the changes took some of the meaning out, Jackson still made considerable effort to remain true to the thematic material--much more effort than most filmmakers, in my opinion. To be fair, it should also be said that it would be nearly impossible to capture the fullness of Tolkien's work in any movie.

I have to echo Jeff Miller's hope that Sir Ian McKellen will be willing to participate in this again. I also hope that there will be some continuity between Ian Holm's version of Bilbo, and whatever new performances may be in the new movie.

At the very least, this is a good opportunity for New Line to redeem itself after The Golden Compass.

At the most, this could be one butt-kicking movie. :)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Belated Post: The rising cost of higher education...

I saved this post for publication a few days before I was admitted to the hospital for appendicitis. That was about three months ago now. I never got around to making my final edits and hitting the "Publish" button. Whoops. :) It's all done now:


The rising cost of higher education apparently includes stupid behavior.

To women seeking higher education:

College is meant for education. While it's a bit silly (o.k. VERY silly) to go just to find a husband, at least it isn't completely illogical and counterproductive. College education can and often does come in handy when one is a wife and mother.

However, there is no point in going if all you are going to do while you are there is turn yourself into a mindless sex object for some guy(s). There is no use improving your brain if you don't plan to use it.

Speaking of brains, for those of you who think you have to be "doing it" along with all of the other college lemmings, here's something to put in your bong and smoke while you still have parts of your brain left:

It is possible to live without sex. It is impossible to get pregnant if you aren't having any. Think about that before you start whining to your university about how much your birth control costs. What's next? Asking the university to provide beer and pot money?

Rats, I'm probably giving someone ideas.

Your college budget would be better spent on a class in accounting or economics.

*End rant.*

Hat tip: Catholic Mom.

Related: Reasons to stay away from birth control Pills, Brain Chemistry and bonding During Sex

Wisdom from Across the Pond

In a refreshing display of real tolerance, non-Christian religious leaders in the UK defend the right of Christians to celebrate Christmas as freely and openly as they themselves would wish to celebrate their own holidays.

"It's time to stop being daft about Christmas. It's fine to celebrate and it's fine for Christ to be star of the show," said Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

It's nice to see people with enough common sense to realize that a society that is willing to tell Christians to celebrate in the closet will probably be willing to harass people of other faiths as soon as it becomes fashionable or politically correct to do so. It is in everyone's best interest to defend religious freedom, even for people who do not share one's own beliefs.

Maybe Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) (FL), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA), and Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), and anyone who will still vote for them after recent events, should listen.

Hat Tips: Modern Commentaries, Pertinacious Papist

Monday, December 10, 2007

When a bad film is a good thing.

I overheard a conversation among some younger (as in, old enough to go to movies semi-unsupervised, but not to drive themselves there) persons today who, after seeing it over the weekend, decisively proclaimed the new Golden Compass movie to be "soooo BORING!".

No apparent interest in the books for them, it would seem. I have yet to see interest in a book sparked by a boring movie.

Rumor has it that the movie isn't doing too well in the box office, according to USA Today and Reuters. Between the outrage in the Christian community, and reviews like this, how could it be otherwise?

I think I can leave the told-you-so's to my fellow bloggers.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Light a candle for them:

So when we stop using electricity in order to preserve the planet, I guess working (or praying) by candlelight instead is out now:

'Green Hanukkia' campaign sparks ire'

I wonder what they'd say about the Day of the Candles celebrations in Colombia.

Via: Catholic Pillow Fight, Modern Commentaries

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Why I won't see certain movies.

When I was taking a Chicano Studies class in college, our instructor frequently brought in guest speakers. One week he invited Josefina Lopez, the playwright who penned Real Women Have Curves.

I was repulsed by her talk. She spent most of her time crassly expounding the merits of artificial birth control ( proudly showing off her norplant), promiscuous sex, and vibrators. To say the least, her talk had little academic and no moral merit and was, in my opinion, a complete waste of every student's time. So repugnant did I find her talk, that when Real Women Have Curves came out on film in 2002, I refused to see it, knowing that I would be contributing to Lopez's career through the royalties she would get.

It's not that I have a problem with the overall concept behind Real Women Have Curves. I believe women should be able to feel beautiful even if they don't look like supermodels.

But we don't need promiscuity, norplant, or vibrators to help us do that.

And I won't contribute to the paycheck of a person who makes it her life's work to tell people the lie that we do need those things, however sincerely she may believe it.

Similarly, when a certain other film written by a certain anti-catholic (and generally anti-religious) person was released into the theaters, I resolved that I would never contribute a single red cent to the profits that would be made through it. Let's just say I have objections to supporting the career of a man who has publicly stated that he wishes to use his writing talents to lead unsuspecting children away from faith in God.

Here is a sampling of his statements (Emphasis mine):

I'm a great fan of J.K. Rowling, but the people - mainly from America's Bible Belt - who complain that Harry Potter promotes Satanism or witchcraft obviously haven't got enough in their lives. Meanwhile, I've been flying under the radar, saying things that are far more subversive than anything poor old Harry has said. My books are about killing God."

(Source: Meacham, Steve. "The Shed Where God Died". Sydney Morning Herald. 13 December 2003.)

"I'm trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief..."

(Source: Wartofsky, Alona. The Last Word. Washington Post 19 February 2001)

Given the above, my objections remain, even if Harry Forbes and John Mulderig say that the film, taken by itself, may be O.K.

Even if that is true (and I haven't seen the film, so I can't confirm or refute that), two inconvenient problems remain.

The first is that if people of faith pay money to see this movie, they will be enriching a man who is willfully seeking to undermine the faith in which they are trying to raise their children.

The second problem is this: if Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Lord of the Rings are any indication, a well-made fantasy movie will generate interest in the book on which it is based, which means that the film cannot be taken by itself by forward-thinking parents and teachers.

And that, as Forrest Gump would say, is all I have to say about that.

*Related: Reasons to avoid Birth Control Pills and other forms of artificial hormonal contraception.